StoryCorps’ Community Training team offers support and training to partnering organizations, empowering them to facilitate and record meaningful conversations. This year we’ve partnered with the New York Life Foundation to create Road to Resilience: Memories that Move Us Forward, a program to support the stories of children grieving the death of a parent, sibling, or important person in their lives. “Creating opportunities for children in grief, their families, and caregivers to record, preserve, and share their stories aligns with the New York Life Foundation’s long-standing support of grieving children and the organizations that serve them,” said Maria Collins, Vice President, New York Life Foundation. “Road to Resilience aligns with our mission to raise awareness of the prevalence childhood bereavement and lack of resources while focusing on resiliency and the need for open communication about death.”
Through this project, we partner with bereavement support organizations to adopt the classic StoryCorps interview model for the children they serve, providing young people the opportunity to preserve memories of the people they have lost, share their grief journeys, or simply to record themselves as they are. Partnering organizations benefit from in-depth training from our team and special resources on how to adopt our interview model for the children they serve.
We are excited to introduce the six organizations partnering with us on Road to Resilience:
A CARING HAND
A Caring Hand is a long-standing bereavement support organization in New York City. It was born from an experience of loss: Susan Esposito-Lombardo and her family founded the organization in memory of her father, Billy Esposito, a New York native who was killed in the September 11th attacks. The communities it serves reflect the city’s immense diversity. Like many bereavement support organizations, A Caring Hand runs groups where participants can meet others who have had similar experiences and who can also provide validation for their experiences. The volunteers and staff of A Caring Hand look forward to implementing the StoryCorps interview model into their programs to foster more opportunities for meaningful conversations about loss and grief between family members.
Based in Houston, Texas, Bo’s place has provided free grief support to children, families, and adults from the area since 1990. Each year, its grief center serves hundreds of families through their peer support groups, camps, and other programs. Bo’s Place also offers grief support services in Spanish, as almost a third of its group participants identify as Latinx or Hispanic. Their team sees the StoryCorps interview model as an invaluable addition to their current resources: “We know this project is a missing piece of the puzzle in the grief support services that we provide, so we are committed to making it available to all of those who grieve. We also know that each recording will become a treasured and cherished keepsake for those who participate.”
The Dougy Center in Portland, Oregon was one of the first organizations in the country to offer children’s grief services and to use a peer support model. Its model and teachings are used in many other bereavement support spaces across the U.S. and the world. The Dougy Center plans to use its StoryCorps training to embed the recording experience into its existing services for children, teens, and their adult family members. The center’s podcast, Grief Out Loud, hosted by staff member Jana DeCristofaro, also looks forward to highlighting various clips from families’ recordings.
In 1978, a group of dedicated volunteers established Hosparus to provide compassionate care for patients and families facing serious illness. Since then, the organization has expanded to provide hospice, palliative care, and grief counseling services for 37 counties in Kentucky and southern Indiana. StoryCorps trained devoted volunteers, social workers, a chaplain, and grief counselors on how to follow the StoryCorps model. “Sharing our memories is a vital part of the healing process after the death of a loved one, especially for children who are grieving,” said Candice Evans, LCSW, Manager of the Hosparus Health Grief Counseling Center. “We are so honored to have been chosen for this compassionate storytelling program, which will help us elevate awareness of the power of stories in our bereavement work, both locally and nationally.”
Located in Traverse City, Michigan, Michael’s Place is the only bereavement center of its kind north of Grand Rapids. In addition to the greater Grand Traverse region, Michael’s Place provides support to children and families in rural communities that are traditionally underserved by partnering with local school districts and with the Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians. As part of its many bereavement services, Michael’s Place offers a support group for cognitively and developmentally disabled young adults, a population of people whose grief is often overlooked or dismissed. The Michael’s Place team is particularly excited for these young people to be given the chance to share their stories in their own words using the StoryCorps model.
“To create these recordings and preserve these memories and experiences is a gift to the children, their families, and the community, both now and in the future,” said
Michael’s Place Program Director Melissa Fournier.
Named for Julia Roberta March, Roberta’s House began as an extension of the March Family’s Funeral Service, one of the country’s largest African American family-owned funeral services. Roberta’s House serves children, teens, and adults from around the Greater Baltimore area by offering thirteen different programs for grief, loss, and trauma, including the Rays of Hope program for survivors of homicide and the Changing the Game program for high-risk teens who have experienced loss. Through their partnership with StoryCorps, the staff and volunteers at Roberta’s house hope to empower local youth and families to share and preserve their stories, as well as educate the community about their services and help destigmatize the mental health needs following loss or trauma.
Learn more about Road to Resilience and listen to some featured stories from our partners.
About The New York Life Foundation
Inspired by New York Life’s tradition of service and humanity, the New York Life Foundation has, since its founding in 1979, provided nearly $280 million in charitable contributions to national and local nonprofit organizations. The Foundation supports programs that benefit young people, particularly in the areas of educational enhancement and childhood bereavement. The Foundation also encourages and facilitates the community involvement of employees and agents of New York Life through its Volunteers for Good and Grief-Sensitive Schools programs. To learn more, visit newyorklifefoundation.org.